Faith and Sports by Eric Jensen

With the World Cup in full swing I wanted to talk about world tournaments this month. Then I realized that comparing world religions is an awful idea and how most wars start. I'm not a big war guy, even the WAR stat in baseball I hate (like what the heck is that?). So I moved on to the next question. Why do people compare religions? Why are they competitive? “Why” was the first thought that popped into my head when talking about a World Cup of Religion.

In my opinion, sports and religion are inherently similar in that they are both built on competitive structures. (Side note: bear with me here. I am about to ask some really hard questions, and maybe questions that a lot of people wouldn’t ask, so here goes.) Why is that the case? Religion is not meant to be competitive. There. I said it. My one big gripe with religion is that somewhere in human history probably at the dawn of the 16th century, the Catholic Church decided it was the dominant religion and all other religions were trash. That’s not on just the Catholics though. The entire Lutheran religion is built on saying to Catholics: you’re wrong my way is better. (I think that might be a direct quote from my guy Martin Luther, actually). Sports are built to be competitive, because you can manipulate them. You manipulate the score line to win or lose a game.  You can’t do that with religion. You can’t say, oh the Bible got that part right, the Quran got this part wrong; one point for Christianity. It doesn’t work because in both cases it is literally the word of God and no one will mess with God.

Ok here’s another big statement that you might disagree with: I think Jesus got the whole “if you don’t believe in what I'm preaching you deserve to die a fiery death in hell” thing wrong. Like why would you say that dude? It contradicts like a whole other part of your teaching. Love everyone right? Well except the romans and the tax collectors and the pharisees. Even more confusingly he at some points says do love these people. What do you want from us (Son of) man? It’s like Jesus set up whatever he was preaching to be competitive. He didn’t believe in competing viewpoints. What he said was right. That just seems like an awful way to set up something people are willing to die for. In sports you can say oh yeah I'm a Broncos fan I really hate Raiders fans and not really mean it. In religion however if you’re a Catholic and you say you hate Muslims that’s how Crusades happen guys; and those aren’t good.

Religion does a lot of things right, but the fact it sets up so competitively is the one big thing it does wrong. Now humanity has somewhat self-corrected and said you know it probably isn't a great idea to kill someone just because they read a different book than me.  But hatred between religions still exists. Competitive religion is what started the Crusades, the Holocaust, The Trail of Tears, the Mormon trek to Utah, and the conflicts in the Middle East. That is pretty screwed up for something that also says, “love your neighbor and love one another”.

You may disagree with all this, and that’s fine. But for me, religion is divisive and somewhere along the road we made it divisive, and Christianity’s biggest superstar sort of made it divisive. So maybe that’s something we need to fix. Maybe we need to throw out the whole hang the tax collectors part and focus on the love each other part. So this summer let’s leave the fierce competition to the World Cup.  And religion, why don’t you leave all that at the door and share some chips and dip with us. Let’s all try to get along for awhile.